Feature story

Planting trees for AIDS in China

27 June 2007

UNAIDS and UNICEF Special Representative Her
Royal Highness Princess Mathilde of Belgium
joined the symbolic tree planting event led by
organisations of people living with HIV in China.

Two issues of global importance, AIDS and the environment, were highlighted during a symbolic tree planting event led by organisations of people living with HIV in China.

The event, organized by the Beijing Health Bureau in collaboration with local HIV advocacy groups, the Mangrove Support Group and Ark of Love organization, forms part of a year-long initiative to greater involve people living with HIV in important public events, highlighting their contribution to Chinese society and in particular to the city of Beijing prior to its hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games.

"With more publicity about AIDS, more and more people living with HIV are facing up to the reality and taking active steps to have a fulfilling life in society," said Meng Lin, the founder of the "Ark of Love" organization.

Under the title “ Olympics with you and me", Mangrove Support Group first started the tree planting project in 2006 by leasing the land near the Olympic construction site and arranging a number of trips to this area for people living with HIV and various organizations involved in the AIDS response. During these events, trees are planted and watered and small personal name plates are tied to the trees.

The project activities not only provide an opportunity for people living with HIV to help make Beijing greener but also aim to reduce AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

UNAIDS and UNICEF Special Representatives HRH Princess Mathilde of Belgium and Serge Dumont, Senior Vice President of the Omnicom Group also joined the awareness raising initiative.

Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde of Belgium
talks with Ms. Guan Baoying, Deputy Director,
Disease Control Division, Beijing Health Bureau
(middle) and a member of a local HIV advocacy
group during the tree planting event .

In her speech at the event, Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde stressed the importance of acceptance and inclusion of people living with HIV in Chinese society. “The universal values of the Olympic spirit -- Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream—are the very values that should guide us in all our contacts with others, whatever their age, sex, ethnic origin or HIV-status,” she said.

Applauding the tree-planting initiative, Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde underlined: “You are showing us the way, working together to make Beijing greener for the well-being of all.”

Also participating in the event were Ms. Jiang Yiman, Executive Vice President of China Red Cross, Ms. Deng Yaping, Red Cross Goodwill Ambassador, table tennis player and winner of six world championships and four Olympic gold medals, as well as Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Special Representative on HIV of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and leaders from the United Nations, Ministry of Health, the Chinese Olympic Committee and the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, TB and Malaria.

In China an e stimated 650,000 people are living with HIV. Approximately 30,000 people living with HIV currently receive anti-retroviral treatment.


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